Hug-A-Bully!

Do you need a hug

Recently I read an article about an apology offered by Ray Hadley to his 2GB radio colleagues following an incident in which he was accused of bullying. Reported accounts from ‘insiders’ suggest Ray’s apology was sincere and heartfelt.  The article also claims that Macquarie Radio Network managing director Rob Loewenthal had urged Ray to “make a “fresh start” to promote cultural change at the station, which has long been a bastion of blokey behaviour”.

While I’m sure Rob is a persuasive guy it makes me wonder what shifted in Ray’s world to make him take stock, own his behaviour and publicly commit to change.  Cynics might argue he was instructed to do so but in my experience authenticity can’t be faked.  Given Ray’s reported reputation it is unlikely uttering words forced to come from his mouth would convince anyone of his sincerity.

Reading this article made me reflect on how often I observe fear, sadness and insecurity in people who are behaving badly.  While of course it is necessary to redress inappropriate conduct it is also true that often the solution lies as much in acting with compassion.  All too often those who bully are those who have been bullied. If not the victims of poor behavior, often these people are fragile characters who struggle to love themselves as much as they struggle to create healthy relationships with others.

Sometimes the most powerful way to help people change is to make them feel understood and cared for.  Standing firm with a non-negotiable expectation that they change their behavior or move on is important; but so too is supporting the bully to understand why they behave the way that they do and resolve the attitudes or emotions that fuel their behavior.

Bulling photo 2

This blog would not be complete without commenting on something else the article suggests.  Apparently Ray is a close friend of station owner John Singleton.  When following the incident Ray was suspended by network manager Rob, it is reported that within hours Ray’s mate John intervened and waived the suspension.  If this is true it reveals a lot about the way the organisation is run and perhaps why their ‘blokey’ culture is an ongoing issue.  It never ceases to amaze me how often business owners ‘cut off their nose to spite their face’ by undermining the very people they employ to help them succeed.  Good luck to Rob as he strives to create a healthy workplace culture in an environment where the big boss is willing and able to work against him (or so the article claims).

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6 thoughts on “Hug-A-Bully!

  1. Hi Karen, your blog post raises a few interesting questions, namely; Is a sociopath able to apologise sincerely or do they only apologise to remove themselves from a personally damaging situation in order to protect their own narcissistic ago. I find it fasinating to watch the ultimately self-destructive beheviour that sociopaths indulge in. I worked with one a few years ago who undermined all his staff members in order to artificially boost his own low self-esteem. The bizarre thing is how predictable they are, I remember looking down Hare’s Psychopathic scale ticking off all the traits and behaviours he had exhibited in the time I workd there.

    Why does the corporate sociopath survive and in some cases flourish in todays corporate environment when they cause such misety and destruction?

    • Thanks for your comment Ed. In my experience the greatest obstacle to dealing with the corporate sociopath is a lack of accountability on the part of managers. Often managers failure to address the impacts these destructive people have because they fear having the conversations they need to have or hesitate to reach the decisions they need to make. It’s also common to observe managers place greater priority on the individual results these people achieve over the impact they have on the spirit and performance of their team as a whole.

  2. I like the idea of giving the bully space to change. It isn’t easy for anyone to change their behaviour and so keeping people accountable in a way that allows them to want to change is a tightrope that requires understanding of both yourself and the other person. It’s not easy to walk a mile in the shoes of someone when you don’t like their behaviour …. but you have to to be able to understand them and to communicate and help them see their truth.

  3. Ray Hadley is probably a bad example. He a recidivist and unlikely to really change his behaviour. Case in point “Those People” when referring to asylum seekers. It is interesting though because the dynamic in federal politics and the media has been bully centric over the last few years. The pattern plays out throw a few punches (with the dual purpose of hurting the opponent while deflecting attention) then play the poor me card when they are called on the behaviour. That’s a classic bullying behaviour. Some will change if they are given the time to reflect and others will not. We used to say you need to build a coalition of assertive behaviours in an organisation so the collective can deal with the bully’s (aggressive or passive aggressive). Just like dolphins working in a pod to fight off the shark, A bully’s best weapon is to divide and concur, if they can’t isolate their prey they usually lose the wind from their sails.

    • Thanks for your comments Don. Totally agree not everyone will change. Unless people accept responsibility for their impact on others and have a sincere desire to change, they won’t!

  4. Pingback: Dear Bullies… Shape Up or Ship Out | Karen Gately

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